We all need to make informed decisions about masks and vaccinations based on reputable scientific data, and we also need to make those decisions based on legitimate behavioral research and data.

Research and casual experience show that people can influence their peers’ behavior through their own words and actions. I read a recent Associated Press article that gave an example of this. It shared an avowed anti-vaxxer’s response to contracting a severe case of COVID-19. He expressed his sheer terror at not being able to breathe and being put on a ventilator. Before he even left the hospital, he was on the phone with his anti-vaxxer family and friends, sharing his experience and strongly encouraging them to get vaccinated to avoid going through what he did, saying, “The vaccine won’t kill you, but COVID can!”

I invite all survivors of serious COVID to do the same. Your words and experiences matter and could help save lives.

Lin McJunkin, Conway